I talked to Newcastle United season ticket holder and owner of TheToonNetwork, Adam about his thoughts towards Newcastle United at the moment, Tottenham and the upcoming game between the two sides this weekend.
Firstly, what are your aspirations for Newcastle this season?
“I’d like us to think we’ll be aiming for a more realistic 13th/14th place finish. Important aspect is to survive, so we can progress properly next year, by consolidating a place in the Premier League. Rafa will continue to create a strong team ethic which should hopefully put us ahead of some rival clubs.”
How has Newcastle’s summer been in terms of signings?
“Newcastle have had a reasonable window so far but Rafa Benitez has had frustrations with the owner after not feeling entirely backed. We missed out on Tammy Abraham and are still a few quality signings shy of a successful window, with the most notable issue being the inability to move deadwood players out of the club to free up finance and squad places.”
What are Newcastle’s strengths & weaknesses?
“Under Rafa we are certainly more defensively sound than we have been in recent years, and I expect us to set up cautiously, while looking to counter attack, for most games this year. Our main weakness is a lack of quality and depth in the squad, and at the time of writing this, we have yet to land an experienced striker. Gayle had a great season last year but fitness and his Premier League pedigree are under question – I think he’ll do well, but he’ll need some help as Mitrovic’s attributes don’t massively suit the style Benitez prefers to play. Our biggest strength, however, is probably the spirit and optimism around the club since Rafa arrived, and although it’ll be a tough season for us, I expect St James’ Park to be an intimidating proposition for visiting teams.”
What do you make of Tottenham as a club?
“Obviously they’ve progressed well the last few years and I really like the style Pochettino has brought. Impressive to see some very good English players in the team excelling, but I’m particularly impressed by the backbone of talent you have: Lloris, Alderweireld, Alli, Kane. Eriksen not bad either!”
What do you think of our current squad and how well do you think Spurs will do this season?
“I think your first team is very good but you do lack quality and depth that is comparable to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City. I think you might’ve been able to run Chelsea further last season had your recruitment been smarter. Janssen and N’Koudou didn’t work out and if you’d asked me this time last year, I’d have told you how awful Sissoko is! Surprised to see you haven’t actually signed anybody yet, but I expect big names in this month – it’s your best opportunity to capitalise on last season.”
If you could take one player from Spurs to have at Newcastle who would it be?
“I’d love to have Moussa Sisso…nah just kidding. Harry Kane all day long.”
Tottenham haven’t particularly done well against Newcastle in recent times, losing four of the last six Premier League games between them, why do you think that is?
“Very good question, but very hard to pinpoint. We were fortunate in our last game at White Hart Lane, hitting you with a sucker punch at the end with Perez’s winner, but I do find it quite poetic that we rejoin the Premier League with the same fixture that we left it. I was there for the 5-1 mauling and it was a special day for the fans – I’ve never known of a ‘relegation party’ before, but the atmosphere within that stadium and the football we produced, despite relegation being confirmed days before, was something you’re unlikely to see anywhere again.”
Who are your key players that Tottenham will need to look out for on Sunday?
“Ritchie and Gayle created the most goals between them last season and both have experience in the Premier League, while still feeling they both have a bit to prove. Florian Lejeune is a new signing at the back who adds aerial prowess, steel and some ball-playing skills too. But I’d have to pick out Jonjo Shelvey as our key man. On his day, he can dictate a game and he has looked extremely fit and sharp in pre-season and he too probably has something to prove in the top flight. Rafa has given him more responsibility and I fully expect him to step up – don’t give him space!”
How positive are you feeling ahead of this game?
“If the atmosphere is anything like the day we last played you, I believe anything can happen. In playing you first, it’s a good chance to cause an upset before your team get an opportunity to generate any momentum.”
Where do you think the game will be won and lost?
“I think the game will hinge on whether you’ll be able to break down our defence so I’ll say your attacking third. Harry Kane has never scored a Premier League goal in August, so we’re praying the trend continues! Alli and Eriksen will cause plenty of problems, but I expect us to lineup with a solid bank of six to stop your attempts to play through us.”
What is your predicted starting XI?
“4-2-3-1: Elliot; Dummett, Lejeune, Clark, Manquillo; Shelvey, Hayden; Atsu, Perez, Ritchie; Gayle.”
And finally what is your score prediction and scorers?
“I’m going to go for an optimistic 1-1. I don’t think we’ll be keeping a clean sheet with the attack you have, but I feel the crowd can play its part in helping us snatch a point. I’ll certainly be there doing my bit!”
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